Old Collegians hope to create a safe and inclusive space at its club through a decision to wear newly-designed Indigenous netball dresses throughout the entirety of the Warrnambool and District league season.
Warriors' A grade co-coach Jemmah Lambevski said it was important the club paid homage and respect to the land on which they played, as well as bringing forward the club's message, through its dresses designed by Indigenous artist Aliza Johnson.
"Essentially the design that Aliza put together was largely based off our club values, of being our community, our club, our home," Lambevski said. "To be able to put that into a piece of artwork and wear that week-to-week and go out on court... it forms a really united front."
Johnson, a Wajarri woman who grew up on Gunditjmara country, explained her artwork was about community.
The piece is about community and coming together and playing together.- Aliza Johnson
"The piece is about community and coming together and playing together," she said. "All of the meeting places, it's kind of a dual use symbol, the camp fires or meeting places... I've put them as the main thing of the piece to represent all the meetings and how much work had gone into the club to get it to what it is now. And cross-hatching in it is supposed to represent the stitching and material in the netball dresses."
Johnson, 23, said designs around community and connection were easily interpreted in her artwork.
"A lot of the work I do is around cultural connection and connection with people and transformation," she said. "It's a very common story we tell."
Johnson said while on-off Indigenous matches weren't tokenistic, Old Collegians' decision to wear an Indigenous dress year-round was "a really big deal".
"It's really, really important that not just AFL clubs but the local clubs are doing stuff like this," she said. "It's a part of cultural safety and a part of letting the mob and the Aboriginal people that are very prevalent in sport and the community... it's letting them know they are wanted and accepted here. And it's a way of respecting the country they are playing on. Every local club should be incorporating art into what they do."
Netball co-ordinator Anna Sanderson said the project aimed to provide a safe and inclusive space for Indigenous players at their club, while bringing the club's "history into the future".
"We have got a long history at the club, this year is 70-years as a football-netball club," she said.
The club's football teams will wear an Indigenous jumper during NAIDOC week.
- Aliza Johnson's art can be found on Instagram at @zivy.art or @alizaivyjade.
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